SCA provides valuable information for USACE Recreational Projects

USACE - Louisville District
Published Oct. 25, 2021
Updated: Oct. 25, 2021

The Student Conservation Association, or SCA, known as America’s conservation corps, is on a mission to create a unified nationwide data set of Corps of Engineers assets across the country.
As part of that effort, the SCA began data collection at Nolin River Lake in Bee Spring, Kentucky Oct. 19, 2021. The purpose of their visit is part of a three-year Geographic Information Systems assessment of transportation, facility, and recreation facilities across the country to create a nationwide data set of the road, parking, and recreation assets that the Corps of Engineers manages. There are many applications for the data according to SCA Program Manager Jamie Weleber. 
“The data collected has a wide variety of applications ranging from public maps to supplying data sets to other agencies to also help recreation and natural resource management,” said Weleber. 
Weleber and the other members of the team including Shannon Kelly, a SCA Corps of Engineers GIS Field Collector, planned to stay for three days at Nolin River Lake while collecting data.
“We’re collecting parking lots, roads, boat ramps, campgrounds, bathrooms then and, within those features, there are certain attributes that you have to fill out like whether the bathroom has water or if they have showers or all that stuff. If you’re in a campground, is there running water, electricity, usage,” said Kelly. 
To collect the data, SCA uses a special device that pinpoints geographic locations and connects to a Field Map data collection center. 
“Then, we connect it to our phones, and use an ARC GIS program called Field Maps. You plot your staff, push a few buttons on your phone, and it will take your location and put it into the Field Maps where we collect our data into one huge data set. Then, we go through and process the data, make sure that everything’s cleaned up and nice and pretty for the Corps of Engineers,” said Kelly. 
There are a few reasons why this mass data collection is important. 
“There’s a wide variety of use cases for this information ranging from just compliance to maintaining funding streams. It can be used for maps…. Being able to integrate that data into 911 systems at a local level can help dispatchers be able to get help to people in emergencies should they get in trouble,” said Weleber. “The key is that it’ll be the same standard data collection for every project inside the Corps of Engineers in every district so we can create one unified nationwide data set.”
Kelly added that the data set will help provide a comprehensive snapshot of the actual number of campgrounds and other assets at each lake project for proper fund allocation in the future. 
“SCA gives young people mission and purpose. The organization offers them opportunities to protect and restore our public lands, while inspiring and training them to be future land managers and leaders. Their programs provide Nolin Lake and USACE with boots on the ground that help get important jobs done,” said Lillian Setters, Nolin Lake park ranger.